hello,i have seen many instructables on what you can do with zippos,but i have not seen a comp-lete guide where the author lists what you should and shouldn't do with a zippo lighter.

please excuse the lack of pictures,but i will post them if i feel they are needed.
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Step 1: The history of the zippo lighter

Picture of The history of the zippo lighter
George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932, and got his idea after discovering a large and bulky Austrian made pocket lighter. Blaisdell was an oil engineer who saw a audience for a good looking lighter that would function even in windy conditions. He produced the first Zippo lighter in Bradford, Pennsylvania.he called it the ZIPPO because he liked the sound of the word "ZIPPER"

Zippos are classified as windproof lighters, and are are able to remain lighted in almost any wind situation. They were common in the United States armed forces, particularly in the second world war standard silver Zippo a military zippo lighter was standard gear for all men in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. During that period, all Zippo lighters produced went to the Allied war effort. In fact, during the conflict, since brass was needed for weapon systems, the interiors of zippos were primarily stainless steel. Following the war, Zippo reverted to the traditional brass design.

Additionally, Zippo lighters are known for the lifetime guaranty they carry: if a Zippo breaks down, no matter how old, the company will replace or repair the lighter for free.

Approx. 200,000 Zippo lighters were owned by U.S. military personnel in the Vietnam War. In one instance, a Zippo lighter transported in a shirt pocket blocked a bullet from going in a soldiers body.

these are the facts i have read from various websites. now while i did copy and paste,I ALSO READ THEM AS THOUROUGHLY(spelling?) as possible.I have confirmed their accuracy,but feel free to comment otherwise.

Step 2: Parts of the zippo

Picture of parts of the zippo
look below in the pictures for the listed parts of a zippo lighter.
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ian0606953 years ago
the story of a soldiers zippo lighter blocking a bullet is incredibly false. u have to completly not know how guns work to believe that. if a bullets coming at you a thin piece of alluminum isnt gonna stop a bullet, i guarentee that guys either dead or alive and sucessfully made a b.s. story. also in the vietnam war the zippos they used where "mini Zippos" as we know them now, and basically they were a zippo that was cut in half
you are making the assumption that the bullet came at an absolute perpendicular trajectory. However, if the bullet struck the zippo at an angle, it could potentially ricochet and not harm the soldier. So, it can save a life, but its not body armour.

im sorry in advance if this sounds like im being an ass but im trying my best not to. anyways im not sure you fully understand the ballistics of firearms. in order for a bullet to be even capable of ricocheting off a aluminum you have to be almost directly aligned with the metal. and if your in the engle to where it will ricochet off off aluminum then even if you didnt have the lighter there it wouldnt be a deadly wound. heres a link to a video of a bullet going through an inch thick of solid steel. it doesnt go through but it makes a hell of a dent and thats an INCH thick of SOLID steel. were talking about a thin layer of aluminum.
Well my friend, sadly I think it may be you who doesn't completely understand ballistics. Firstly, your video is a bullet going through ballistics gel, not steel plates. Second, those are not your casual 9mm either, those were higher caliber rounds, probably hollow point and armor piercing to see the comparison. Furthermore, its not one flimsy piece of aluminum, its two! and with cotton in between. It can perform as a cushion effect, AT AN ANGLE! so what im saying is that it will most likely NOT protect you from a shot right to your zippo from near point blank, but can potentially defend you from a possible bullet wound caused by a bullet fired at an angle to your lighter. Please get back to me, I'm eager to see where this goes!

The Link*
Okay, I'm coming in late here, but I think I'd like to contribute. Firstly, it was clearly said above that after the Second World War, the material that Zippos are made from was changed from steel to brass. This means that the material trying to block a bullet was two sheets of brass, not aluminium. You're right, aluminium could never block a bullet. Also, in between the brass sheets there is rayon and lighter fluid. Both of these combine to make something roughly equivalent to what's called a dilatant (see link below). Dilatants are basically liquids that, when between two sheets of material, spread and resist movement. This means that, with the combination of the brass and the dilatant lighter fluid, a zippo lighter could potentially block a bullet.

Then again, Mythbusters tried it, and their Zippo failed to block a bullet, so I could be wrong.

It can't be Dilatant because it is not full. It's just cotton soaked in fluid. Cotton, soaked or not, doesn't do anything to protect you. Further, there are 4 layers od metal that bullet has to go through to pierce Zippo. But those layers are so thin, they might be able to stop 22lr or such. 7,62x39 not so much.

If it went the way you say, there wouldn't be a hole in a Zippo. Just a mark where the round ricocheted against Zippo. Hole means it was n more that about 25-30 degree angle. Sorry, at close range, 7,62 goes through most of metal jackets. We like to have stories like this but there is no rational ground for those.

Another possibility is that a Zippo lighter (or anything else for instance small bibles etc) prevented a tumbling bullet from penetrating the person. ie. a bullet that has passed through who knows what before hand and lost much of it's energy. Or it may not have been a bullet but a piece of who knows what shrapnel.

The point is that something like the Zippo stopping the bullet situation is completely possible to imagine and that the story would be interesting and memorable!

Most of people talking about this are the ones who never shot 7,62 round, that AK 47 uses. I agree with you, even without watching that video. Even at 45 degree angle, 7,62, say on 200 yards, will go trough Zippo like nothing. Zippo is hollow, not solid metal block. So, really, to me those stories just sound hard to believe.

Zippos were never made of aluminum.

No, i shot my zippo brass lighter with a .22lr and it made a nasty dent to the point where you couldnt get the insert out, but it certainly stopped it. And this wasnt at an angle, and it was about give or take 15 yards. A zippo could certainly stop a bullet and save a life. Maybe not like a 50 cal, but maybe like an Ak-47 if it was at an angle. I grew up around guns all my life and know A LOT about them.


I will have to disagree on Zippo being able to stop AK 47 round, 7,62 caliber. I know this very good since I have carried one of those in war in Bosnia, fighting Serbian forces for 3.5 years. Unless it was really, really far away, Zippo will not even change slightly the trajectory of the 7,62 round. I like to believe that I know AK 47's quite well because of above mentioned reason. NV soldier probably had one of those too. If he was any range, maybe up to 500-600 yards, Zippo would be next to nothing to protect you from that round.

JethroC ian0606957 months ago

Dude please....
There are endless stories of people being saved from being cellphones, belt-buckle, bible, cop-badge, schoolbook, quarter, nametag, flask, clipboard, and every thing else you can imagine.
Hundreds of them.

Please stop your know it all diatribes and just appreciate the wonder of it all bro!

aonixk ian0606959 months ago

If the bullet was a small rimfire, such as .22 lr or almost any older rimfire (eg. .41 short rimfire) the zippo could have rather easily caught the bullet or redirected it.

I will repeat my earlier comment:

It's quite possible that a Zippo would stop a bullet.

in mind that not all bullets fired on the battlefield are high-powered
rifle bullets, and many are "accidental" hits that may have been fired
hundreds, or thousands of yards away, or have ricocheted off a vehicle or other hard object. German officers & sergeants
carried pistols, and many of them (particularly in formerly occupied
countries like France or Belgium) were not standard issue. I have a
rather silly little .32 caliber pistol that my uncle removed from a
Wehrmacht officer in 1944. No chance that bullet would go thru a Zippo,
nor would many larger-bore pistol bullets (like from 9mm Lugers), esp.
if fired from a distance and esp. if they had to also penetrate heavy
winter clothing and/or other pocket debris. The same would hold true
for bullets fired from one of those miserable little Japanese Nambu
pistols -- assuming they even fired at all.

Also, keep in mind
that many battlefield weapons, then and now, were actually rifles or
machine pistols firing pistol-type ammunition (e.g. German machine
pistols or the U.S. "Tommy Gun." Those bullets were very slow and their
speed degraded greatly over distance. Someone who caught a stray one
that was fired a great distance away would suffer a much different,
shallower wound, and a Zippo might well stop that projectile. Bear in
mind that bullet size is far less important that bullet SPEED.

All modern Zippos, such as those used in Vietnam, are made of STEEL, and Zippo has never made an aluminum case. I have a WW2 blackout Zippo carried all through the Marine campaigns in the Pacific, and it's STEEL. A magnet sticks to it just like on my modern ones.

21-year Army Master Sergeant

Former Firearms Dealer & Custom Gun Maker

Competition Shooter, 1964 - 2008

My father has a zippo lighter from Vietnam and the bullet went right through the lighter killing a north Vietnamese solder dead in his tracks!! I'm looking at the lighter right now as we speak! This one did not stop the bullet! The guy that had this one in his shirt pocket is planted in the ground dead! It's a pretty nasty hole right through the center of the lighter and my father assured me the man that was carrying this particular lighter is dead as a door nail! Lol
I wouldn't keep that lighter if I were you. It belonged to someone that your father killed. When someone is killed under false pretenses (ex. war), the emotions run ramped and the soul is so strongly linked with emotions. That is to say, it is probably quite cursed and will bring you and your bloodline into horrible downfalls. I'm not instructing, I'm warning. Parts of the murdered man's rage could quite possibly be withheld in the lighter. Don't be so proud of something that was a prize for murder. It may already be too late for your soul; eternal hell and suffering may already be bestowed upon you. When you laugh at death, death's sinister grin awaits to be opened to devour your soul.
HeinzH1 bej.smt4 months ago

I don't believe in your theory but I don't have any negative attitudes towards religious people because those in my life have rather been cool fruitcake type of dudes. Thats that.. but how do you theorize about the fact that.. The NV guy shouldn't have had the zippo in the first place. He probably got that from a marine. So, maybe the marines afterlife rage helped to get the NV guy the bullet? But then it did help mr. Vanderbergs father didn't it? Maybe it still continues to? I was actually searching for a way to make my Zippo blu to ignite smoother(roll smoother), like the petrol ones I have tried. It's actually igniting much better now when I switched from Ronson to Unilite something.. I don't know if it is even Butane, because it only says universal feuerzeug gas but I don't care since it lights better and I don't think I have any overheating problems given that the butane flame is 1300c anyway.

HeinzH1 HeinzH11 month ago
So. Good I refound the thread. Did I say something good about the unilite gas? Well, after a couple of refills the micture got so airy that you could extinguish flames with the zippo.. it doesn't clog like ronsons but... I hate that I just can't find any good butane around here. I wouldn't really mind to pay 50% or even 100% more than the 2.50€ that I paid for a can.
HeinzH1 HeinzH11 month ago
Have to add that, yes I do the airing occasionally. In fact I did it each time I filled with the unilite but it doesn't seem to help.
QuinnL1 bej.smt6 months ago

Ummm... lol i guess?

Javin007 bej.smt8 months ago

Wow. People like you are real. I thought that was just some kind of Hollywood thing.

DSLaBuda bej.smt8 months ago

cool story bro

It's entirely possible that a Zippo could stop a bullet, but that depends on various factors, including range, obstructions prior to the bullet reaching its target, and, most notably, how powerful ththround/gun is. I'm quite certain a Zippo couldn't stop round from an m16 but stopping round from a .22lr is certainly believeable.
edlivesay3 years ago
Several of you are correct..... Reading the ingredients of Zippo fuel, one notes that the main if not only ingredient is Naptha.... reading the ingredients of Coleman (or other brands of "white gas") we find that it is nothing more than Naptha.

You can pay $3 for 6 oz of Zippo or you can pay $10 or so for a gallon (prices going up like everything else).

Naptha is Naptha.
BradyW1 edlivesay2 months ago

Naphtha is Naphtha. The only problem is that Naphtha is a generic term that can include any flammable hydrocarbon liquid. The chemical composition and boiling point varies greatly between different blends as well as different refineries.

If you go to Bulgaria and buy Naphtha, you are going to get diesel fuel. If you ask for it in Argentina, you are going to get gasoline. In Poland it will get you some kerosene. Technically, crude oil is also Naphtha. While many of these will work in your Zippo, it's not a great idea to fill your Zippo with most of them.

SamM163 months ago

Classic lighter and design that will never age...talking about fluids I use naptha and put a drop of cologne (Stetson) and it works great plus it comes in a gallon can that'll last yrs.

I say this with kindness in my heart... please, please let me fix the typos, grammatical errors, sentence structure & basic spacing. Reading the information was almost unbearable and sometimes unclear, due to the way it was typed. I fear Ur audience cannot properly read the information Ur trying to convey, so then Ur "instructable" misses its objective. Might I suggest for future "instructables", that U try typing the paragraphs in Microsoft Word. Or, another such publishing application where U can utilize the full capabilities of the spelling & grammar checker, as well as the Thesaurus. Then simply copy & paste from Ur final draft. I'm an English major, have proof read for newspapers, written a ga-zillion or so technical & software manuals for small businesses to huge corporations. So, sorry to say, this website almost made my eyes bleed, it is so ruff. U should see all the red ink on my screen... as I made corrections while reading... LMAO!

You used "U" and "UR" an awful lot for being what you say you are.
slang800 gnelson23 months ago

@gnelson2: thats the joke

This is a comment page on an intstructables website not a grammar nazi page

So much this lol. Guy has good info, but its like he typed it all out on his phone.
CoyC3 months ago

My Dad´s 1970´s era Zippo would run and run. My 90´s era had to be refilled often. I know my Dad used other petroleum products out on the Oil Rigs to run his. He used Official Ronson Fluid on occasion. I think the problem with mine was the Rayon vice whatever they used in the 70´s in my Dad´s. His might have been cotton and mine some other material like Rayon. If they replaced the fuel packing with the old material I would get another one.

to'bryant3 months ago

Wow, over 1 million views!

Soldier's life saved by a ZIPPO LIGHTER? Fact or Myth:
Nice video..
looks like it is very possible,and mind you in this video the second bullet hit the weakest point of the lighter..
NikcV5 months ago

Can't believe nobody said anything about this (At least I haven't noticed)

But you DON'T want to use other flints (like from bic lighters) on a zippo. It's not a terrible idea it's just that zippo flints are softer and create more of a spark, which makes it MUCH easier to light. Also it might make the zippo flint wheel smoother and although you can send it back to get a new insert it's going to ruin it.

hitachi85 months ago

for those who are not very inclined with volatile chemistry:

zippo (and all other wick device) will work on:



-diesel,kerosene,K1,jet fuel (might be hard to light)


-while gas

-"coleman fuel"

-other similar fuel.

dont try to run anything inside with a fuel that have additive in it (poison).

dont run the more volatile fuel for a long time, gasoline and like.

DaveR110 months ago

Not sure about that; bought a can of "Power Premium Lighter Fluid" at the smoke shop recently and have to fill my Zippo every other day all of a sudden. I've always used Zippo or Ronsonol before and never had a problem. The stuff smells different, too, like maybe there's some acetone or similar mixed in to make it evaporate faster. Looking at the can now, it says "Petroleum distillate-Naptha". Going back to the old stuff, hope I didn't screw up my lighter permanently.

LolaW DaveR16 months ago

Even if you did mess up the filling of the lighter, a replacement wick and filling (you know, the cotton-like stuff that holds the fuel) are extremely cheap. It's awfully hard to permanently screw up a Zippo.

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